Archive for the ‘Socialcam’ tag
Mobile video. Hot space, right? Viddy just raised $30 million, Socialcam just sold for $60 million. But most of the big mobile video apps seem to be more focused on video consumption and building their user base than actually, you know, letting people shoot video. TapIn.tv wants to change that, with a new app that will let users instantly create and share live and on-demand video streams from their mobile phones.
Mobile video streaming is nothing really new — not even live mobile video streaming. As soon as the iPhone had a camera, there were apps out there that were hacking it to let users stream from their phones. But those apps generally required users to sign in if they wanted to share video, name the channel or stream that they’re shooting, and provide a description. With today’s generation of on-demand mobile video apps, users also have the option of adding filters, title cards, and other crap before posting video.
TapIn.tv strips that all down to just the bare necessities. You download and open the app and BOOM! you can instantly start shooting. Streams are tied to the location of the user, and immediately get posted to the TapIn.tv website.
Video quality depends on available bandwidth, with the app uploading 480p live video over WiFi, and 360p over 3G mobile networks. Videos are available through their own links, which is the same whether a viewer is watching live or on-demand. Links can be shared on Facebook or Twitter once a user has logged in, but there’s no requirement for users to do so in order to post. Users can always claim a video later, since the app establishes ownership based on the device ID, rather than a Facebook profile or other account login.
On the TapIn.tv website, users can browse through videos shot using the app based on date and location. According to co-founder David Tyler, location is important because it will allow users to compare multiple views of the same event or series of events. The idea behind the app came in part from the Occupy protests, where an app like TapIn.tv could have shown the crackdown of protesters in Zuccotti Park from different angles, for instance.
TapIn.tv is currently participating in this summer’s Y Combinator class, and the four-person team is one of the youngest groups to go through the program, with an average age of about 20. Three of the founders (David Tyler, Tyler Menezes, and Paul Cretu) met as part of Redmond High School’s robotics club, Exothermic Robotics. They met the fourth founder, Vu Tran, at StudentRND, a student hacker space in Bellevue, Washington. The team first started working on the app as part of a Seattle Startup weekend last November, when they were building it specifically for citizen journalism.
The team is working on new, interesting ways that they can visualize video events near each other, and working on finding ways to provide a way to watch videos in the app — all without ruining the experience of opening it up and shooting video.
We wrote recently that Venture Capitalists are hot for video startups. Since then, two companies we highlighted hit major milestones: SocialCam was acquired for 60M and Tout raised 13M.
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Socialcam is één van de snelst groeiende startups op het gebied van mobiele video’s. Gisteren is bekend geworden dat Autodesk de videodienst overneemt voor 60 miljoen dollar. Dit bedrijf is ook…
Funding news flooded our wire today with so many announcements and releases, it was like swimming upstream in a hurricane to keep up with it all. We had to include a lightening round just to cover the bases! Grab a life vest, a paddle, and check out what happened today in the maelstrom of the investment world.
Kiip keeps on trucking with $11M in new investment
Rewards network Kiip announced today that it closed $11 million in a second round of investment. The funding will go towards expanding Kiip’s rewards system beyond gaming, infusing ‘moments of happiness’ into everyday life. Kiip works with game developers, brands, and users to reward gaming achievements with tangible products. The money will go towards doubling the team, which currently consists of 30 people. The round was spearheaded by Relay Ventures with participation from previous investors True Ventures and Hummer Winbland. Read more on VentureBeat.
Egnyte gets $16M spark from Google Ventures, KPCB, & Polaris
Enterprise cloud storage startup Egnyte has raised $16 million from Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Polaris Venture Partners in its third round of funding, the company announced today. Egnyte helps businesses with various hybrid cloud storage solutions and competes with Box, Nirvanix, Zetta, and others. Through increased marketing efforts and a smart anti-Box campaign, the company has attracted more attention and now has 1 million users across 30,000 paying companies. Read more on VentureBeat.
Socialcam acquired for $60M…which would have seemed more impressive pre-Instagram
Software company Autodesk acquired quickly growing video app Socialcam for $60 million, the company announced Tuesday. Socialcam is currently the most popular application on Facebook, with about 54.7 million monthly active users. It strives to be the next “Instagram for video” along with rivals Viddy and Klip. While this buy out is shy of Instagram’s $1 billion price tag, it is nothing to sneeze at. The money ought to cover the 4 employees’ needs, at least for awhile. Read more on VentureBeat.
Samsung treats itself to British chip-maker CSR for $310M
Feeling flush from smartphone sales, Samsung did a little shopping and picked up British chip designer CSR’s mobile platform for the price of $310 million. With this cash deal, Samsung gets access to CSR’s mobile connectivity and location technology, along with 310 employees. Samsung is also shelling out $35 million for a 4.9 percent stake in CSR as a whole. The move gives Samsung access to 21 new U.S. mobile technology patents, all of which will be valuable tools in Samsung’s ongoing patent battles. Maybe the next item on Samsung’s shopping list should be a sword. Read more on VentureBeat.
Aryaka raises $25M to turn surfing the web into Formula 1
Cloud startup Aryaka raised $25 million to help companies operate more efficiently by speeding up internet processes. This service is called WAN Optimization, and enables data exchange, communication, and applications to function harder, better, faster, stronger [cue Kanye].The latest funding round was oversubscribed, and led by InterWest Partners with participation from Presidio Ventures and existing investors Nexus Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures and Mohr Davidow Ventures. It follows two previous funding rounds of $14 million in initial investment and $15 million a second round. Read more on VentureBeat.
TiVO spends $20M to discover why no-one uses TiVO anymore
As part of its struggle to stay relevant amidst the ever-growing number of set-top boxes, smart TVs, and rising streaming video viewership, TiVO bought television analytics platform TRA for $20 million. TRA’s platform essentially matches the purchase activity from households with what those households watch on television. TiVo plans to integrate the TRA platform into a new TiVo Research and Analytics unit, which could offer metrics and insights useful to advertisers that want to get the most for their money. TiVo’s acquisition of TRA is expected to close later this month, according to the company. Read more on VentureBeat.
Eager beaver Loggly rakes in $5.7M for log management
Online log management company Loggly announced today that it’s secured $5.7 million in a second round of investment. Log management is a service that takes large volumes of data from companies and transforms it into interpretable form. Loggly’s cloud-based platform serves major companies like Symantec, AirBnB, Heroku, Intuit, the BBC and Electronic Arts. This impressive client roster probably did less to bring in investment than the adorable company mascot, of Hoover the beaver.
Whatever the motivation, the recent round of funding will go toward expanding the 18 member staff and boosting infrastructure to accommodate ever-growing volumes of data. This money brings Loggly’s total funding to $10.4 million. It is backed by True Ventures, Trinity Ventures, and most recently,Matrix Partners. Read more on VentureBeat.
Totsy puts $18.5M into its kiddie pool (floaties not included)
Totsy, an ecommerce site dedicated to offering deals for parents, babies, and kids raised $18.5 million in its second round of financing. The site features major brand names, like Disney, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Zutano, at a reduced cost. The discounts are available for a limited time, with the average sale lasting around three days.The company is growing and expects to become profitable by the end of the year. It currently has 3 million active users and was featured in Forbes last year as one of the most promising private companies in the US. The recent investment was led by Rho Ventures and DFJ Gotham, both New York based capital firms, and follows a first institutional round of $5 million from 2010. Read more on VentureBeat.
To the Batt Cave! IntelliBatt raises almost as much money as Bruce Wayne
IntelliBatt secured a $22 million equity investment from Columbia Capital, with participation from CBC-Capital, to fuel the company’s growth and expand its product line. IntelliBatt provides a monitoring system for large power supplies and batteries. Data centers and commercial operations use this system to ensure they maintain mission critical power. The technology provides constant monitoring, data analysis and support to predict and pre-empt failure.
Formerly known as Data Power Monitoring Corporation, IntelliBatt has been around since 2006. Some of its major customers include Barclays, Charles Schwab, Qwest Communications and Equinix. It is headquartered in San Rafael, CA. Read the press release.
And now for the lightening round…
RedMere Technology Limited and Fresco Microchip partnered to create Spectra7 Microsystems, backed by $10 million in new equity from Celtic House Venture Partners, EdgeStone Capital Partners, and Ventures West. Read the press release.
Mobile commerce platform provider Tapingo raised $3.5 million in its first round of funding from Carmel Ventures. Tapingo enables students to use their phones to order and pay for food and other goods at college campuses. Read the press release.
Israeli startup Promodity has raised $1.5 million in angel funding to centralize and automate marketing. The company promises to bring the equivalent of Salesforce to marketers, so they can manage online campaigns and increase conversion rates in one place. Read the press release.
Mobile social media innovator Audingo acquired $3M in angel funding to launch its platform nationwide. The platform enables users to hear directly from choice organizations and personalities with personalized audio and video messages in the form of calls, texts or emails. Read the press release.
Socialcam, along with video sharing rivals Viddy and Klip, aims to be the next “Instagram for video,” but the startup’s buy offer is considerably less than Instagram’s $1 billion acquisition offer. That said, Socialcam launched just 18 months ago as a part of Justin.tv, and then split into its own organization last August. $60 million for 18 months of hard work isn’t too shabby.
“Socialcam shares Autodesk’s mission of helping everybody imagine, design, and create a better world,” said Socialcam CEO and founder Michael Seibel, in a statement. “Autodesk has a proven track record of acquiring and scaling fast-growing, early stage consumer businesses while staying true to their core audience and vision. With products like Pixlr, SketchBook and 123D, Autodesk is empowering creativity in millions around the world by making their award-winning technology accessible to everybody. We’re excited to join them and introduce this global community to simple video creation, editing and sharing.”
Socialcam is currently the most popular application on Facebook, with about 54.7 million monthly active users, with TripAdvisor and Yahoo Social Bar in second and third. While Socialcam has that coveted No. 1 spot, its active number of users is now trending down, which might explain why Autodesk offered just $60 million. However, social video apps overall do appear to be rising in popularity and could become a problem for YouTube.
Photo credit: Socialcam
There’s been a race on over the last year among mobile video sharing apps, many of which have sought to replicate the same type of success that Instagram had with photo sharing. We’ve seen a number of startups — like Socialcam, Viddy, and Klip — trying to attract new users by providing a platform for shooting interesting videos and then sharing them out to other social networks. Well, it’s not the same billion dollars that Facebook paid for Instagram, but Socialcam is one of the first to see an exit, as the app and team were just acquired by software company Autodesk for $60 million.
The Socialcam app launched about 18 months ago, then as part of live streaming startup Justin.tv. Then, last August, it spun out from the larger organization, taking CEO Mike Seibel with it and operating as an independent startup with just a handful of employees. Over the past year, the lean team has continued to iterate on the product, first adding Instagam-like filters, and later giving users the ability to add themes and soundtracks to their videos.
Despite fast growth, Socialcam entered the Y Combinator startup accelerator earlier this year. It was actually Seibel’s second time through the program, as he had previously participated with Justin.tv. Not long after Demo Day, it raised a seed round of funding from a group of angels that included Tim Draper, Yuri Milner, Ari Emmanuel, Laurene Powell Jobs, Ashton Kutcher, Brian Chesky, Paul Buchheit, Alexis Ohanian, among others.
By all accounts, Socialcam is one of the leaders in the nascent mobile video sharing category, it’s growing fast, and with just four employees, it was operating pretty efficiently. So why sell out now, with a huge market opportunity ahead?
Well, to hear Seibel tell it, the acquisition will ultimately will provide more freedom and flexibility to go after mobile video users. Socialcam will operate out of the consumer products group of Autodesk, with Seibel reporting to Consumer Group VP Samir Hanna.
Socialcam will continue to operate independently, it will have its own office, and it’ll hire a few more people — although Seibel says he plans to keep the team pretty lean. In other words, the acquisition will still allow the team to develop the product, but it will have more working capital and corporate backing to accelerate growth.
Autodesk is best known for its design, engineering, and 3-D rendering software. It plans to help the Socialcam team scale up their platform and integrate some video tools into its apps. “We’ll take the best of what the pros have and be able to bring those tools to everyday people,” Seibel told me via phone. Autodesk also sees an opportunity to pitch the Socialcam application to some of its entertainment clients as a way to better engage with their viewers and customers.
For Autodesk, the acquisition continues a string of seemingly random purchases by its Consumer Products Group. Last Summer the company acquired photo editing and sharing service Pixlr, and followed that up a month later with the purchase of popular DIY community Instructables. Hanna said that the Socialcam buy will help it in the consumer video creation and sharing space, where it currently lacks a foothold.
With Socialcam going to Autodesk, Viddy will likely be the largest independent mobile video sharing app out there. It recently raised $30 million from NEA, Goldman Sachs, Khosla Ventures, and Battery Ventures. There are others, like Klip and Mobli, but they haven’t reached the critical mass that the Socialcam and Viddy have.
The big question is if it’s even fair to make the analogy of “Instagram for video.” There was a pretty big hype cycle when Instagram was bought for like, a billion dollars, but lately expectations for a similar outcome have cooled. Video’s not like photos, Seibel admits, but there isn’t the same type of instant gratification when sharing. Perhaps more importantly, people aren’t yet used to videography, and there’s a considerable learning curve to making video look good — you can’t just add a filter and call it a day. Even still, there are plenty more players who are willing to give it a go and chase that dream.
Startups like Viddy and Socialcam are angling to be the Instagram of video — that is, to figure out some simple way of creating, editing and sharing mobile videos, in a way that resonates with users like the photo-sharing service has.
But it’s hard, Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom said on stage at Le Web London today, because of the medium. Videos take minutes to load. “Users want a faster experience, they want to produce quickly. [With Instagram] you can take a photo and make it beautiful in seconds.”
After some prodding from host Loic Le Meur, he conceded that there are some “really interesting things going on” in video. But he didn’t cite the startups I mentioned. Instead, he talked about Cinemagram, a mobile app that lets you animate photos, GIF-style. Maybe some new feature like that are coming for the startup that Facebook bought? He said last year that video-ish updates could be coming.
(By the way, about that sale price. I’ve recently heard that the company sold for meaningfully more than the $1 billion that we and others previously heard, albeit for a mix of cash and stock. So, the amount will change along with Facebook’s day-to-day stock price.)
Systrom, whose social filtered-photo app now has “more than 50 million users,” also had some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. “Too many people are focused on the late nights, the fun things, all the meta stuff that doesn’t matter. It’s a means to an end. Instead, they should focus on big problems.”
The talk didn’t directly address how Instagram itself solves a big problem — in fact, a common pundit gripe is that it shouldn’t be worth $1 billion because it doesn’t. But Systrom, Le Meur, and chef-celebrity Jamie Oliver talked about what Instagram does do, which is make humans around the world more connected and aware of each other.
[Photo by Jamillah Knowles.]
It wasn’t too long ago that Pixorial made the jump from being an online video sharing service to rolling out its own social, mobile video applications. Now, in its race to take on the competition and try to become the “Instagram for video,” Pixorial has added a few new feature to its app, including filters that let users spice up their videos in real-time.
With the new Pixorial iPhone app, users can choose from up to 17 different real-time filters to augment their videos. They include filters like Sepia, Blur, Sketch, and Grayscale, which apply the effects while the user shoots the video. While the filters are a neat way for users to differentiate their videos, it’s also a way for Pixorial to make money through in-app purchasing. The first five video filters are free, but additional filters available for purchase at the price of $1 for a pack of six.
Pixorial got its start on the web, and so users of the mobile app will be able to access their video libraries from either the iPhone or their web browser. And as with other mobile video apps, there’s a social component that will allow them to send videos out to be viewed by friends on a variety of social networks and publishing platforms, including YouTube, Blogger, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
All of that is pretty standard, and I should point out that there are a ton of mobile video apps that already do real-time filters. Like Socialcam, which first introduced the capability last October. But one big differentiator Pixorial does have is that it actively encourages private sharing of videos, for when you don’t want everyone to see your toddler’s first steps or your embarrassing karaoke singing. The app’s “share to crowd” feature lets users email videos out just to individual friends and family. The email provides a private link, where users can watch video from. It’s also a pretty decent user conversion tool, since they have to sign in to view private videos.
The other big upgrade in the latest version of the Pixorial app is behind the scenes, but improves the overall experience. That includes a performance upgrade that will provide wide-screen viewing of videos and faster processing of videos uploaded to the web platform.
Author’s Note: So there are a whole bunch of mobile video apps, and it’s a big crowded space, and everyone’s hoping that they can catch a little bit of that Instagram magic and translate it into a big, video-based payout. Will one win out and beat all the others? Maybe… but I’m personally a little skeptical. That’s not to say that someone won’t figure out a business model behind the whole thing, but I get the feeling the winner of the social/mobile/video sweepstakes will look totally different from what we’ve seen so far.
Most of you have probably seen Facebook’s new “frictionless sharing” apps—like Socialcam or even the Washington Post’s Social Reader—pop up in your news feed, automatically sharing videos your friends have watched (probably without them realizing it). Facebook has implemented some new rules to avoid accidental auto-sharing, but it doesn’t make these apps any less of a plague on Facebook. Here’s what you need to know. More »
If you hate accidental auto-sharing, you’re in luck. Now you have to be watching or reading something for at least 10 seconds before Facebook apps can auto-share the activity to your Timeline. That should drastically reduce the amount of crappy click-bait articles and video clips you see in the news feed and ticker. Video apps must also now inform you that they auto-share and provide an option to opt out on the page where a video is watched.
It also recently added more requirements to its comprehensive checklist auto-sharing apps must follow. The debate rages on about whether “frictionless sharing” is the future of discovery or the death of curation, but at least Facebook is taking decisive steps to keep the worst content from spreading friend to friend.
Facebook launched its Frictionless sharing apps eight months ago, where users authorize an app once and it can then publish on their behalf when they take certain actions. But rather than firm requirements for privacy controls it has merely encouraged best practices that developers “should” follow.
Unfortunately many developers only care about maximizing referral traffic and user counts, not the health of the Facebook experience. Back then I said Facebook might need to come up with a solution on its end rather than relying on the good hearts of developers. Now its is finally getting tough on spam, making the 10-second rule a firm requirement for news and video apps.
Here’s the exact text, with my emphasis added in bold: “Built-in watch and read actions can only be published after someone engages with the content for 10 or more seconds. If a video is shorter than 10 seconds, the viewer must watch the entire video.” For contrast, Facebook’s policy on providing sharing controls for most apps only says “You should allow people to turn sharing on or off for the content in your app, and the setting a user selects should persist.”
Thankfully, video apps are now more tightly controlled. That’s important because unlike utility apps or news readers where most content is professionally made or there’s little opportunity for deception, video apps like Viddy and Socialcam often feature user generated content that can be misleadingly titled. Spam and link-bait are in the eye of the beholder so some 15 year old might really want to share a “Sexy Girl’s Top Comes Off” video, even if others find that video of a girl putting down the top of her convertible to be misleading spam.
For instance, I was pissed off when Socialcam auto-shared that I had watched “Lil Wayne Fights A Basketball Player” when it was really a video pulled from YouTube of the rapper celebrating a NBA team’s win by chest-bumping with one of the athletes. A lack of regulation and suspected favoring by Facebook’s EdgeRank news feed sorting algorithm led video apps to grow like weeds during April. In fact, they’re springing up and growing so fast they can’t moderate their user generated content in real-time, so Facebook minimizing the spread of low-quality content is critical.
Now for video apps, “You must provide users with the ability to remove any video stories you publish to Facebook, and include this option on the same page where you host the video content” and “You must give the user clear, ongoing, and in-context messaging that their watch actions will be published on Facebook.” That means even if you get tricked into clicking, it will be obvious that your viewing activity will be shared and you can instantly nuke the story.
Beyond policy changes, Facebook has been tweaking how its displays auto-shared stories. It switched to a Trending Articles design that shows a blurb about a news article and not just link bait-prone headlines. Expect more product changes as Facebook adapts to emergent developer behavior.
Frictionless sharing and the Open Graph platform are hugely ambitious moves for Facebook. They could provide the content and ad targeting necessary to grow its revenue such that it can justify its $104 billion IPO price, or at least its current $81 billion market cap. But they also push the limits of privacy and fundamentally change how we share from an explicit to an implicit action.
Developers can’t be left to police themselves, or many will be as spammy as possible. If the average user is going to get comfortable with auto-sharing, they need to know an impulse or accidental click won’t instantly share something awful with all their friends. A 10-second grace period is a good start.
[Image Credit: HackThePC]